Gordon Water’s Coffee Roasting Facility at Our Portage Location
When you think Gordon Water Systems, you probably don’t think “coffee roaster” do you? Well, in this blog, we flip that assumption on its head! If you follow us on our social media platforms, you’ve definitely seen us talk about our coffee solutions for your office, but did you know that we roast the coffee ourselves?
If you take a trip down to our Portage offices, you’ll find our coffee roasting facility. On any given day, you’ll find our head roaster, Drew, working his magic in the roastery. From operating the roaster, to cupping the coffee (cupping: the coffee industry term for tasting coffees after the roast to evaluate roast quality), to packaging everything for our customers, Drew is the man.
So naturally, with as much as Drew does for our coffee program, we wanted to take a little time to highlight him and educate a little more about what we do with our coffee program on our blog!
Q: How long have you been roasting coffee?
A: Gordon Water Systems has been roasting coffee for about 18 years, but I have been roasting for about seven years now. I was not a coffee drinker when I first started working at Gordon Water. That changed one day when I tried a cup of Azo Coffee — it was brewed extra thick in the French press, but tempered with some cream and sugar. It tasted so wild and sweet that I became determined to try every kind of coffee I could find, keeping a flavor log as I did so. This eventually led me to learn how to roast.
Q: What about roasting coffee has been the most interesting to you? Are there things that you learned along the way that you never realized was part of the roasting process?
A: A big part of the roasting process is getting to know your beans individually. I’ve been continually amazed by the number of flavor possibilities that exist in coffee, and because of this variety you have to treat all your coffees differently in the roaster. Some beans take more time than others. Some react more favorably to a mellow roast, while others need to be heated aggressively. The best way to figure out is trial and error.
Q: What differentiates our coffee from other coffee roasters?
A: Our batch sizes are smaller than most other roasters, which not only gives us more control over all the beans in a batch, but allows us to cater more to individual tastes. We also have a lot of freedom to explore — for instance, we recently carried a coffee that came from Myanmar, a country that has produced coffee for years but is relatively new to the specialty coffee scene.
Q: What kind of coffee do we offer? What’s different about them?
A: We offer a few blends for anyone who wants a coffee that they can keep coming back to — Brite & Early for light roast drinkers, High Mountain Blend for the medium roast crowd, and Harrar Dark for those who like dark roasts. We also have a rotating selection of single-origin coffees that showcase what those regions are known for. For instance, Africa tends to produce brighter, light-bodied coffees. Latin America, on the other hand, is known for chocolatey and well-balanced flavor. And then the Oceanic countries like Indonesia have very bold, earthy coffees. Of course, we like to break stereotypes too, and so we’ll also look for fruity coffees in Latin America and wilder flavors from islands like Bali and Sumatra.
Q: Is high quality water important when you brew your coffee? If so, why?
A: Absolutely! Depending on how you brew your coffee the water makes up 95-98% of what is in your cup. Water quality is very impactful on the nose, ability to discern the subtle notes and the after effect on the pallet. Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) along with things like chlorine (city water), iron and hydrogen sulfide all greatly impact the coffee you put into your cup. There are also the things we can’t see, taste or smell (think lead or PFAS) that you want peace of mind when drinking your coffee.
We bottle drinking water as well as provide filtration to our customers to help them have clean, safe water. With study and asking questions years ago we adjusted our Mineral Enhanced Bottled Water to have approx 90-100 parts per million (ppm) or “stuff” in the water. Our filtration systems also have optional mineral cartridges to raise the pH slightly and add TDS back into high purity reverse osmosis water. This helps create a great cup of coffee consistently. For that reason, we recommend our Mineral Enhanced Bottled Water as the best water to use when brewing a cup of coffee.
Q: What’s a fun fact about coffee that people don’t normally know?
A: Coffee has been shown to contain over 800 different flavor compounds. Compare this to wine, which is only around 200! Another thing that people may not know is that we can derive a few other products out of coffee as well — the fruit of the coffee tree can be peeled and dried and used as a tea known as cascara, and the caffeine that gets removed from decaf coffee gets sold to energy drink manufacturers!
Q: How can our customers get our coffee in their offices?
A: You can call our office at 800-928-3768 or contact your water & coffee specialist if you would like to find out what coffees we are currently offering. We typically do 5-pound orders for businesses, but you can also get 12 oz bags if you want a variety or if you want to try something new to see if you and your co-workers will like it.
And there you have it, folks! A look into our coffee roasting facility here at Gordon Water Systems. If you have any questions about trying the coffee out for yourself, reach out to us using the number that Drew mentioned before (800-928-3768)!
We’re sure you’ll love it!